The Greenwood council rejected two requests to seek alcohol sales in the city, however they voted unanimously for an ordinance, for its first reading, establishing the permitting process for the selling of alcohol in Greenwood should the sale of it ever become legal.
The proposed ordinance was brought to the council by Alderman Rod Powell in response to two businesses in Greenwood seeking private club licenses to serve alcohol at their establishment.
“There will be point when planning should be in place,” said Powell. “I think that this is the best time, when everything is off the table, now is the time to plan.”
The debate over alcohol sales started at the September meeting council when restaurant owner, Josh Niles, approached the council to seek permission to request a private club license so that beer and mixed drinks could be sold at his sports grill that opened earlier this month. Even with the approval from the council Niles would have still needed approval from the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
Any application for a private club must first be approved by the local council by ordinance. The ordinance allows an individual to file their application with the AABCC for a private club. Once the individual has permission from the council to file the application the Director will make a decision whether or not to approve the application.
The current ordinance includes the state maximum for taxation, with a 10% tax on beer and wine and a 14% tax on mixed drinks. Fees include a $1,500 annual permit for private clubs.
“By having a steep privilege fee that is renewable every year you have kind of gotten rid of your dives,” said Powell.
Greenwood City Attorney, Mike Hamby, stated that he has gone over the ordinance with David Schoen with the Arkansas Municipal League and they have not found any issues with the ordinance.
The ordinance originally stated that All revenue collected will be budgeted and appropriated for activities that benefit youth and youth parks related purposes by the Greenwood Parks Commission. However, Powell agreed to strike that portion of the ordinance after some discussion.
“I think the council should control the funds,” said Alderman Daniel McDaniel. “This ordinance may not come into play for the next five years and none of us may be sitting here when it happens. As state law exists today the council controls the money so I think we should write the ordinance in a way that says that.”
The ordinance also puts a distance requirement of 2000 feet from any school, church, day care, youth activities organization, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous meeting place, alcohol/narcotic dependency center, without prior approval from the City Council. Approval may be revoked for any cause at any time.
“There is no place currently within the city limits of Greenwood that is not 2000 feet from one of the things listed,” said Councilman Tim Terry. “Unless we annex out toward Fort Smith.” Powell stated that the council would have to weigh in on every request to serve alcohol.
Each business that applies for an alcohol license would have to submit a business plan that will be kept with the permit so that if the business varies from their business plan the business can have their license revoked or simply not renewed the following year.